Monday, August 24, 2015

News: Marks & Spencer targets new Rotherham retail development

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Renowned British retailer, Marks & Spencer could be one of the first occupiers at a new £30m retail development in Rotherham, if planning approval can be gained for a Simply Food store.

Plans for a 98,000 sq ft development, to be known as Cortonwood Shopping Park, were only passed on appeal at a public inquiry in 2013 after earlier being refused by Rotherham Council.

Developer Helical Retail has been working on an extension to the existing Cortonwood Retail Park and the initial scheme would see a current distribution warehouse demolished to make way for six large units.

Plans were amended in 2014 for nine new out-of-town retail stores creating around 85,000 sq ft of development together with the addition of floorspace at mezzanine level that would not exceed 60,000 sq ft of gross internal area. A tenth standalone unit has been added to the scheme.

Earlier this year, Helical Retail said that negotiations were proceeding with a number of leading fashion retailers and a start on site is anticipated in January 2016, once funding has been obtained.

The developers believe that the new retail park will create between 279 and 372 jobs (equivalent to 186 full time jobs).

Marks & Spencer has expressed firm interest in operating its "Simply Food" operation from the scheme and is looking to take a 1,022 sq m unit, creating an estimated 50 - 55 jobs. Company policy for store openings sees the recruitment of as many of the new staff as possible from the local area.

However, M&S store will only take the unit if developers can overturn a condition of the original planning permission that prevents the primary use of any of the permitted retail units to be for the sale of food.

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A retail statement included with the application discusses the impact of the proposed food store on the catchment area of the belt of Dearne Valley towns and concludes that "there is more than adequate capacity to accommodate the proposal in the context of the retail geography of the catchment area."

It adds that any trade diversion is likely to come from supermarkets and superstores and that the new Cortonwood development is set to "claw back trade currently going primarily to Parkgate, Meadowhall, various retail parks and to a much lesser extent, town centres."

Based on 2019 estimates with the proposed M&S having a turnover of £9.48m, most trade is expected to be diverted from the nearby Morrison's (£2.57m) and from M&S and Morrison's at Parkgate (£1.28m). £1.07m of the store's turnover is assessed as being diverted from town and district centres, the only locations given protection by national planning policies.

A sequential assessment has not been submitted.

In a letter in support of the application, Chris Smith, Simply Food acquisitions manager for Marks & Spencer, said: "We see the proposal as having a range of benefits for our existing and future customers including through the convenience of being able to purchase items, whether in conjunction with shopping trips to ... neighbouring and wider retail parks at Cortonwood, or as an additional food retailing facility for local area residents.

"We will be extending choice, competition and diversity in food retailing for users of the retail park and for local residents and complimenting our other stores in surrounding areas which sell both non-food and food goods.

"Our intention is to increase our food market share, and consistent with this we remain committed to our stores within Barnsley (Queen Street), Rotherham Parkgate and Meadowhall which have been subject to recent investment and will remain unaffected by this proposal."

Marks & Spencer website

Images: Marks & Spencer

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